We were posed this question from a single parent considering a relationship with another single parent. The short answer we gave was: "YES!"
Now for the longer answer: "Good NIGHT this is freaking hard stuff!" Again: "Absolutely worth it." But also: "Try and be prepared as much as possible, because it's not going to be easy." Every one of us is unique. Therefore, each of our families is also unique. I know of a blended family who vacation together...like we're talking exes going to the beach with new spouses and all their kids. Good for them! I know another blended family in which, when the ex-husband remarried, the ex-wife and her new husband were IN the wedding party. I am not even joking. This stuff CAN happen! But of course, there are the stories on the other end of the spectrum where exes are so angry and hurt (or selfish or mentally ill) that they go out of their way to alienate the relationship between child and biological parent. That's just harmful - for everyone! Our story started out somewhere in the middle of these extremes. NOW however - 13 years into it - we have pretty decent relationships with both our exes and their new families. Which translates into our teenagers feeling more comfortable (and having less of an opportunity to play us against each other because we communicate): Win-Win!
Here are 3 important pieces of advice for blending step families:
#1 When you're in a blended family, know that your "honeymoon" comes at the end rather than the beginning.
You see, when you are married AND THEN have kids (like God designed it), you have some time together, just the two of you, to get to really know each other. It's like gradually walking into the warm water of an island paradise. Slowly. Enjoying. Each. Moment. And then you add kids and get to know each other other again - but you have that base of just you two from which to build upon. However, when you come into a marriage with kids, it's like diving head first into deep water: Sink or swim, baby! That "slow" time IS going to happen for you...once the kids grow up and launch out on their own. This is not to say that you won't have moments alone - date nights, weekends away, maybe even a week once a year (that's our goal). But STICK WITH IT - it IS worth it - your honeymoon is coming!
#2 When you're in a blended family, your spouse STILL needs to be your number one human priority (not your kids).
Some stepfamily resources out there will tell you that your kids need to be the focus when you are blending a family. However, we know that God designed us to make our spouses our number one human priority, and so in our family we follow that plan as best as we can. After all, the kids are (God willing) going to leave your home one day and you don't want to be left staring at a "stranger," right? So, do all you can to get on the same parenting page with your spouse, back him up in front of the kids, and disagree in private! Look, I understand you may have guilt about your failed marriage/relationship and the effect it has had on your child or children. I get it. Believe me, I really do. But permissiveness always follows guilt - and that just creates obnoxious, self-indulged, selfish children. So you HAVE to work though this so that you can parent from love rather than guilt. (You can do this, I can help!)
#3 When you're in a blended family, you NEED other couples/families to walk alongside you.
In the beginning of our marriage, we prayed and prayed for God to bring us "couple friends." It took years. And even now, our closest friends are not in blended families. Sometimes, I feel sad and compare our family to our "intact" family friends, mourning the loss of that for our kids. Sometimes, I feel misunderstood when I'm missing (or not) a kid who's with another parent because it's hard for non-blended families to understand that dynamic. However, it's MOST important to have couples with whom you can do life - blended or not - We weren't made to do this life outside of community! Thankfully, we have been able to connect with couples who are blended - some of them living this life much longer than us, and many new ones!
We know that God has allowed us to be on this journey for His glory and our good - even when we don't understand - we can trust that we are right where He wants us to be.
Tell me about YOUR blended family experience - good, bad, or neutral - in the comments below:
#ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you're in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them!